Mentions of cybersecurity within the filings of companies in the retail sector rose 26% between the first and second quarters of 2021.
In total, the frequency of sentences related to cybersecurity between July 2020 and June 2021 was 106% higher than in 2016 when GlobalData, from whom our data for this article is taken, first began to track the key issues referred to in company filings.
When retail companies publish annual and quarterly reports, ESG reports and other filings, GlobalData analyses the text and identifies individual sentences that relate to disruptive forces facing companies in the coming years. Cybersecurity is one of these topics - companies that excel and invest in these areas are thought to be better prepared for the future business landscape and better equipped to survive unforeseen challenges.
Cybersecurity in Retail: Filings trends Q3, 2021By GlobalData
To assess whether cybersecurity is featuring more in the summaries and strategies of retail companies, two measures were calculated. Firstly, we looked at the percentage of companies which have mentioned cybersecurity at least once in filings during the past twelve months - this was 85% compared to 70% in 2016. Secondly, we calculated the percentage of total analysed sentences that referred to cybersecurity.
Of the 50 biggest employers in the retail sector, Amazon.com Inc was the company which referred to cybersecurity the most between July 2020 and June 2021. GlobalData identified 70 cybersecurity-related sentences in the United States-based company's filings - 1% of all sentences. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd mentioned cybersecurity the second most - the issue was referred to in 0.8% of sentences in the company's filings. Other top employers with high cybersecurity mentions included The Home Depot Inc, Kingfisher Plc and CVS Health Corp.
Across all retail companies the filing published in the second quarter of 2021 which exhibited the greatest focus on cybersecurity came from Etsy Inc. Of the document's 1,179 sentences, 29 (2.5%) referred to cybersecurity.
This analysis provides an approximate indication of which companies are focusing on cybersecurity and how important the issue is considered within the retail sector, but it also has limitations and should be interpreted carefully. For example, a company mentioning cybersecurity more regularly is not necessarily proof that they are utilising new techniques or prioritising the issue, nor does it indicate whether the company's ventures into cybersecurity have been successes or failures.
GlobalData also categorises cybersecurity mentions by a series of subthemes. Of these subthemes, the most commonly referred to topic in the second quarter of 2021 was 'data security', which made up 78% of all cybersecurity subtheme mentions by retail companies.